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Announcements

College Forward’s CEO Austin Buchan will share the stage with Salesforce at this year’s Dreamforce Conference

College Forward continues to draw recognition for our contribution to the nonprofit education and technology space. As Salesforce’s flagship conference, Dreamforce takes place November 6-9 in San Francisco, and draws crowds of up to 170,000 attendees from around the world and across industries. This year’s keynote presentation will highlight and share exciting announcements centered on…

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College Forward | 11.06.17

College Forward’s CEO Austin Buchan will share the stage with Salesforce at this year’s Dreamforce Conference

College Forward continues to draw recognition for our contribution to the nonprofit education and technology space. As Salesforce’s flagship conference, Dreamforce takes place November 6-9 in San Francisco, and draws crowds of up to 170,000 attendees from around the world and across industries.

This year’s keynote presentation will highlight and share exciting announcements centered on Salesforce’s groundbreaking artificial intelligence product, Einstein. College Forward’s own industry-leading student information system, CoPilot—built on the Salesforce platform and customized to track vital student data to inform our student coaching interventions—stands to be highlighted as a powerful use case, demonstrating how Einstein’s predictive analytics can empower the college success industry to create sophisticated, proactive coaching services to first-generation collegians throughout the U.S. With over 40 partners currently using CoPilot for their student tracking needs, Austin notes, “This latest predictive analytics solution will not only benefit the 8,000 students currently served by College Forward, but will also provide sophisticated solutions for the 240,000 students currently being served by our CoPilot partners across the country.” Einstein’s ability to create early alert systems for us and our CoPilot partners is yet another step toward ensuring no student falls through the cracks on their path to a college degree.

This latest predictive analytics technology stands to accelerate College Forward’s work to build and share effective solutions for practitioners across the nation and to shed light on the importance of leveling the academic playing field for millions of first-generation, low income students.

The keynote address is slated for Tuesday, November 7th from 11:30-12:30 p.m. PST.
Click Here to Watch Live

A Message from Our CEO

After 14 years of leadership and service, College Forward CEO and co-founder Lisa Fielder has announced her retirement at the end of the year. To read her words to the College Forward community, please click here.

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College Forward | 10.18.16

A Message from Our CEO

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Dearest Friends of CoFo,

Fourteen years ago, Doreen Wise and I cooked up a crazy scheme at my kitchen table. Blessed equally with bravado and ignorance, in early 2003 we blithely filed the paperwork to create College Forward.

What a ride it’s been! Over the years our little nonprofit grew to serve more than 8,000 young people and became a national leader in college services for low-income students. We’ve cheered at hundreds of college graduations. We’re honored by close relationships with many of America’s most innovative educational and philanthropic organizations. CoFo college graduates advocate for legislation in Austin and Washington, D.C. We partner with the White House on three educational initiatives. And College Forward is just hitting its stride! We’re approached almost daily about new opportunities; our challenge now is to choose which of those will achieve the greatest good for the students we care most about.

But my part of this glorious journey is nearing its end. I dearly love College Forward, our students, and our extraordinary band of co-conspirators, but the time, focus, and business acumen required to take CoFo into the future exceed my inner beach bum’s energy and attention span. On January 1, 2017, I’m handing the reins over to Austin Buchan and retiring for good. Austin and I have worked closely with CoFo’s Board of Directors for three years to plan and execute a careful, logical, collaborative transition, and we believe we’ve set a new standard for doing it right.

Austin Buchan joined College Forward in 2010 to head college completion. A year later, he led the development of our groundbreaking CoPilot student information system, which already reaches 156,000 students in 17 states. His strategic thinking and strong business skills earned a promotion to Chief of Staff in 2013 and to Executive Director in 2015. Austin has adroitly launched successful state and national advocacy campaigns and established two self-sustaining social enterprises. Last month he received the National College Access Network’s coveted “Executive Leadership Award of Excellence” for his work advancing our field. With the support of CoFo’s Leadership Team, Austin has effectively led the organization since July 2015, freeing me to focus on partnership development. He’s a rock star.

Austin is surrounded by an equally-talented team whose average tenure at CoFo exceeds 5.25 years: Scott Del Rossi, Charlie Herrmann, Monica Durham, Leigh Ridge, Rip Rowan, Carl Searles, and Cameron Vanzura. The Board has readied this group for leadership with extraordinary care, close mentoring, and high-quality training; they and their committed staff have time and time again met and exceeded every challenge. The Board and I have complete confidence in their abilities and their leadership.

College Forward is also lucky to have an entrepreneurial and endlessly supportive Board of Directors. They collaborate closely with the staff to define policy and strategy. With a wealth of experience in business, education, and nonprofits, they’re always available to brainstorm an idea or give advice about a thorny problem. Just last week, I was privileged to witness CoFo Board Chair Dennis Cavner receive the Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award, the state’s highest honor, from the Governor of Texas.

The thousand souls who have come together to help build this organization are the best, most caring, most generous people I’ll ever know. The entire Board, Austin, CoFo’s staff, and I are enormously grateful for the contributions of those who have helped build or guide College Forward since 2002. Knowing you, working with you, and having your friendship has been the greatest privilege of my life.

  • To our students: thank you for inspiring me every day. I’m embarrassingly proud of you.
  • To our donors and grantors: I’m humbled and grateful for your trust, support, and advice.
  • To our partners: working with you and for you is a great source of joy and pride.
  • To our AmeriCorps members and volunteers: OMG, look what you’ve built!!
  • To our Board of Directors: y’all are way, way better than Harvard Biz School.
  • To our hardworking staff: you’re the bomb! Thank you for the daily miracles.
  • To Doreen: you’re the very, very greatest BFF in the history of the world.
  • To Austin and CoFo’s Leadership Team: y’all got this! Go forth and do good.
  • To everyone: as of January 1 I’ll be free for happy hour almost every day. Hit me up!

With respect, gratitude, and love,

Lisa Signature - No Last Name

White House: National Call for Commitments to Action

In October 2014, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics launched a Year of Action, and with it a national call for Commitments to Action in honor of its 25th anniversary. In the spirit of what President Obama calls a “shared responsibility,” the Initiative challenged the public and private sectors to make meaningful…

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College Forward | 10.15.15

White House: National Call for Commitments to Action

In October 2014, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics launched a Year of Action, and with it a national call for Commitments to Action in honor of its 25th anniversary. In the spirit of what President Obama calls a “shared responsibility,” the Initiative challenged the public and private sectors to make meaningful contributions that expand opportunity and increase educational outcomes in the Hispanic community.

On October 15, 2015, at the culmination of the 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month, President Obama is announcing 150 Commitments to Action, with a collective investment of nearly $340 million, that will build on and accelerate federal, state, and local investments in high-quality education, from cradle-to-career for the nation’s Hispanic community.

College Forward has committed more than $3 million in support of expanding our existing programs and sharing our proven resources. Over the next three years College Forward will provide college access and success services to more than 16,900 high school students and 7,900 college students. Through productive partnerships and resource-sharing, we will leverage our expertise to dramatically improve educational outcomes for Hispanic students in Texas and beyond.

“These commitments will bring critical resources to Latino students and families across this country, are examples of meaningful investments being made in support of the largest, youngest and arguably the fastest growing minority community in the country and will help fulfill America’s future,” says Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director for the White House initiative. College Forward is proud to be among the organizations that answered this important call to action.

 

To learn more about the Initiative and to view the full list of Commitments to Action visit www.ed.gov/HispanicInitiative.

Please join College Forward in celebrating this important commitment and join the conversation on social media:

Hashtag: #LatinosAchieve

Twitter: @HispanicEd, @CollegeForward

Join Cofo at the Texas Tribune Festival – Students Free

College Forward wants to send 3 students to the Texas Tribune Festival, a unique gathering of the biggest names in national and Texas politics, including Julian Castro, Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Steve Adler, and many, many more. Students can rub elbows with some of the nation’s most prominent policy and thought leaders, and learn more about the…

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College Forward | 09.24.15

Join Cofo at the Texas Tribune Festival – Students Free

College Forward wants to send 3 students to the Texas Tribune Festival, a unique gathering of the biggest names in national and Texas politics, including Julian Castro, Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Steve Adler, and many, many more. Students can rub elbows with some of the nation’s most prominent policy and thought leaders, and learn more about the issues that interest them!

The event takes place October 16-18 (Friday to Sunday) at the AT&T Event Center. 

 

This is a GREAT opportunity for students majoring or interested in political science, economics, business, or communications, and a great opportunity for network/resume-building.
 
College Forward will pay for all registration fees, and the opportunity is open to any current high school or college students. All we ask is that students share their experiences on social media while at the festival (live-blog, y’all!), and write a reflection afterward that we can share on social media/website.

 

Going the Distance: College Forward Partners with Education First

We are excited to announce our partnership with Education First, an organization founded in Seattle that provides college scholarships to exceptional seniors in 7 U.S. cities at high schools with historically low college application rates. To help these students persist and graduate, College Forward will provide them with our award-winning college success mentoring services. We…

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College Forward | 09.24.15

Going the Distance: College Forward Partners with Education First

We are excited to announce our partnership with Education First, an organization founded in Seattle that provides college scholarships to exceptional seniors in 7 U.S. cities at high schools with historically low college application rates. To help these students persist and graduate, College Forward will provide them with our award-winning college success mentoring services. We are thrilled to work with more students, and partner with other game-changing organizations in an innovative way.

“A college degree versus a high school diploma can mean the difference of at least $1 million earned over a career,” said Chris Bryan, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Education First. “Many of our scholars are the first in their families to go to college. It’s new, unfamiliar and there is always a risk of dropping out. By giving them a personalized coach, we hope to give them the edge they need to earn a college degree.”

College Forward’s goal is to provide ongoing support to students and ensure their every need is met. CoFo is extremely proud to partner with a fellow organization that shares the same vision.

To stay informed about College Forward’s exciting work, connect with us online.

Twitter: @CollegeForward
Facebook: College Forward

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ABOUT EDUCATION FIRST:

The mission of Education First is to provide need-based college scholarships to exceptional seniors attending high schools with historically low percentages of college applicants. By rewarding students with strength of character, a commitment to learning and a vision for their future, the organization’s aim is to invest in individuals who will positively affect their communities. Founded in 1995 in Seattle by recent college graduates, Education First has awarded more than $700,000 to nearly 200 recipients and is active in the following cities: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Austin and San Diego. A 503(c) organization, it is run primarily by volunteers.

Read more about what this partnership means to Education First

College Forward Named “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” By White House Initiative

In recognition of our successful efforts supporting the postsecondary ambitions of native-born, immigrant, and undocumented students, College Forward has been named a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. As a Bright Spot, College Forward will be part of a national online catalog that includes over 230…

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College Forward | 09.15.15

College Forward Named “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” By White House Initiative

In recognition of our successful efforts supporting the postsecondary ambitions of native-born, immigrant, and undocumented students, College Forward has been named a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. As a Bright Spot, College Forward will be part of a national online catalog that includes over 230 programs that invest in key education priorities for Hispanics.

Celebrating its 25th year, the White House Initiative seeks to leverage these national Bright Spots to encourage collaboration between stakeholders focused on similar issues in sharing data-driven approaches, promising practices, peer advice, and effective partnerships, ultimately resulting in increased support for the educational attainment of the Hispanic community, from cradle-to-career.

Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the Initiative, made the announcement on Tuesday, September 15 in honor of the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. “There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential,” said Ceja.

College Forward has built one of the most effective college access and completion programs in the country: 99% of College Forward’s students apply to and are accepted to higher education, 90% matriculate within one year of high school graduation, and we are driving furiously toward a 65% postsecondary completion rate. College Forward’s Hispanic students earn degrees and credentials at five times the rate of Hispanic students in Texas.

To learn more about the Initiative and to view the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education national online catalog visit www.ed.gov/HispanicInitiative. Please join College Forward in celebrating this enormous honor and join the conversation on social media:

Hashtag: #HHM, #LatinosAchieve
Twitter: @HispanicEd, @College Forward

 

ABOUT COLLEGE FORWARD:

College Forward is an Austin, Texas-based college access and college completion program, founded in 2003 to combat a decades-long decline in higher education achievement for low-income students. With a single goal – a postsecondary credential for every student – College Forward provides intensive mentoring for low-income and first-generation students whose education, without our services, would most likely end soon after high school. We currently serve more than 6,000 students from Central, West, and Gulf Coast, Texas, at 18 high schools and more than 115 colleges across the nation.

College Forward Students are Beating the Odds, Invited to White House

Two CoFo students have been invited to participate in the Beating the Odds Summit, a landmark White House celebration of the achievements of underserved students in higher education. Andrea Alegria and Ruby Rodriguez-Segoviano are in Washington, D.C. with Executive Director Austin Buchan to be recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama and our nation’s education leaders for their outstanding achievements. Follow their updates on Twitter!

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College Forward | 07.20.15

College Forward Students are Beating the Odds, Invited to White House

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Two College Forward students have been invited to participate in the Beating the Odds Summit, a landmark celebration of the achievements of underserved students in higher education at the White House this week. Andrea Alegria and Ruby Rodriguez-Segoviano will travel to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday with College Forward Executive Director Austin Buchan to be recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama and our nation’s education leaders for their outstanding higher education achievements.

As part of her Reach Higher initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome more than 130 college-bound students from across the country to participate in the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit. These students are being sponsored by 70 non-profit organizations, and represent a mix of urban, rural, foster, homeless, special needs, and under-represented youth who have overcome substantial obstacles to persist through high school and make it to college. Building on College Forward’s commitment to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment made at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action earlier this year, this event will focus on sharing tools and strategies students can use to successfully transition to college and the resources they will need to persist and complete the next level of their education.

The day-long event will include a panel moderated by E! News host Terrence Jenkins, which will feature First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, musical artist Wale, and Manuel Contreras, a rising senior at Brown University and co-founder of 1vyG. Wale will also perform a concert for the students.

Additionally, students will participate in workshops and panels led by the U.S. Department of Education, Google’s Jaime Casap, and other leaders in K-12 and post-secondary education.

Please join us in congratulating Andrea and Ruby on this remarkable achievement, and we invite you to follow their journey this week and join the conversation on social media:

Hashtag: #ReachHigher
Twitter: @FLOTUS, @ReachHigher, @College Forward
Instagram: @MichelleObama, @ReachHigher2020@CollegeForward

Meet Our Latest Coach of the Month!

June’s Coach of the Month is Danica Morgan, one of our AmeriCorps Coaches who returned last fall for a second year of service. Our Access students have benefited from TWO years of Danica’s encouragement and guidance. Thank you Danica and all of our amazing Returners!

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College Forward | 06.22.15

Meet Our Latest Coach of the Month!

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Danica Morgan
College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Fun Fact: Danica plays semi-professional full-contact women’s football with the Austin Outlaws. Although she took off this season to better serve her students, she plans to try out for the Detroit Dark Angels when she moves back to Michigan in July.

Danica’s Impact: As one of our star returning AmeriCorps Coaches, Danica has gone above and beyond with students this year. Beyond helping her students reach their milestones — 100% of her students have been accepted to college, finalized their resumes, and submitted their FAFSA/TASFA — Danica has done an excellent job of establishing lasting connections with all of her students. As a bonus, many of her students earned scholarships ranging from $500 to $20,000 this year! Thank you Danica for two years of service!

“The best part of my job is working with students! Whether it is in the classroom or one-on-one during lab hours, knowing that students see me as a go-to resource in any situation related to the college application process has pushed me to give no less than 110% every day as their coach… I have learned just as much from my students as they have from me, if not more.”
Danica & Students
Danica (center) poses with fellow CoFo Coach Mark Goodman (bottom left) and several of their students.

Meet Our Coaches of the Month!

Lauren Rex is this month’s featured college coach – read on to find out more about her contributions to College Forward and her students!

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College Forward | 05.19.15

Meet Our Coaches of the Month!

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Lauren Rex
College Completion Coach – Austin
Hometown: Bowling Green, OH
College: Bowling Green State University

Fun Fact: Lauren loves national parks — Glacier National Park in Montana is her favorite!

Lauren’s Impact: Lauren is a humble and patient coach, and has used these skills when helping many of her students transfer from Austin Community College to 4-year universities. She is also a great leader, organizing the mentor recruitment and interview process for new collegian mentors. She is an excellent addition to the organization, and we are glad to have her on the team. Thanks Lauren!

 

“I like being able to interact with and assist my students who attend [Austin Community College.] Being able to meet up with students at the office or at ACC Highland has helped to build stronger relationships with them… I believe in the near-peer mentoring model that College Forward uses to support our students because having an extra support system while going through college has proven to be very beneficial for the students I work with.”

We Love CoFo Coaches and Mentors!

This month we celebrate Austin Access Coach Josh Newby and Collegian Mentor Melissa Escobar for their accomplishments and contributions to College Forward!

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College Forward | 04.23.15

We Love CoFo Coaches and Mentors!

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Josh Newby
College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: Memphis, TN
College: University of Arkansas

Fun Fact #1: While camping in Big Sur, Josh had a run-in with a mountain lion — the animal circled around his (thin!) tent and roared, making it nearly impossible for Josh to fall asleep for the night. We’re glad you’re okay, Josh!

Fun Fact #2: Josh once gave a program update at an all-staff meeting while HULA-HOOPING the entire time.

Josh’s Impact: Josh is an incredible Coach who constantly looks to grow in his position at College Forward. It is obvious how much his students enjoy his leadership, guidance, and friendship–when you visit his class, you’ll see that his students are constantly laughing and having fun…while still completing all of their college, FAFSA/TASFA, and scholarship applications. Josh is just as involved around the CoFo office, participating in 5 different office workgroups; his efforts ensure that College Forward programs stay strong, efficient, and serve our students effectively!

“[My students] are all such amazing and inspirational young adults. Being able to work with students at such a personal experience continues to be a truly rewarding experience. I am deeply grateful to have been given the opportunity  to be a part of their lives. Some of my favorite student stories have been of first-generation students returning to class from winter break, and telling me how great it was to tell their whole families that they were accepted into college.”


It’s not only our coaches who continue to impress us — our mentors are amazing too!

This month we would like to honor Melissa Escobar for her outstanding work with her mentees at the University of Texas – San Antonio.

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Melissa takes an extraordinary amount of care and thoughtfulness with her mentees, creating meaningful relationships with each one. She has made plans with each of her students to ensure they are completing their FAFSAs, up to date on assignments and improving on exams. Thank you, Melissa, for your enthusiasm and dedication to being a compassionate and creative mentor!

Meet our CoFo Coach of the Month!

Our Coach of the Month is Kathleen Doll, a fantastic Completion Coach in Austin. Read on to learn more about her contributions to our programs and students!

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College Forward | 03.16.15

Meet our CoFo Coach of the Month!


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Kathleen Doll
College Completion Coach – Austin
Hometown: Aurora, CO

Fun Fact: As a wee tot, Kathleen created a rubber band chain that spanned several blocks! 

Kathleen’s Impact: Kathleen exceeds the expectations set forth for Completion Coaches and strengthens our team and our program everyday with her big brain and big heart. She is smart, curious, and a whole lotta fun – a role model for her team members and students alike. Kathleen has taken leadership roles in both of her AmeriCorps workgroups, and brought in important information on community colleges, student mental health issues, and student outcomes analysis. We are proud and grateful to have her on the team–thanks, Kathleen!

“I firmly believe that quality education is the gateway for enduring change. Thus, College Forward’s dedication to generating equal access to education resonates deeply with me. Daily, I realize that College Forward embodies the right blend of people, passion, resources, and panache to truly impact the educational climate.

During my term of service, I have been astonished by College Forward’s relentless commitment to improving the program’s functionality and impact through critical assessment. Ultimately these efforts aim to enrich the lives of our students, our community, and our world.”

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Kathleen (left), pictured with fellow coaches and students at the University of Houston.

Amplify Austin – Join Our Cause!


Amplify Austin
is coming up on March 5-6! Join College Forward in ensuring that all Central Texas students receive the support they need to access and complete college!

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College Forward | 02.18.15

Amplify Austin – Join Our Cause!

amplify logoYour Donation Matters


We’re giving CoFo Alumni the chance to become a founding donor of the
first-ever CoFo Student Scholarship: a scholarship for CoFo students created by CoFo alumni.

During Amplify Austin, a 24-hour city-wide giving event, every dollar donated to the scholarship fund by College Forward alumni will be matched with two dollars from College Forward donors. To meet our $3,000 goal, we are asking the CoFo alumni network to raise $1,000.

As a former student, we know that you understand the difficulties our students face. With your donation we can extend these exclusive scholarship opportunities to our motivated students and support their success together. Remember, any donation counts!


Amplify Austin begins at 6pm on March 5 and ends at 6pm on March 6.

Our donors are matching donations during Amplify Austin, so make sure to schedule your donation today and triple your impact!

Schedule your donation today!

 

donate


 

15874878754_271e3a8a0f_oHow Your Contribution Helps:

  • $5+ – Helps fund the first-ever CoFo Student Scholarship
  • $25 – Provides a College Forward workbook and t-shirt for one newly enrolled junior student.

 

Meet Our CoFo Coaches of the Month!

Learn more about our amazing Coaches of the Month — Rachel Van Middlesworth, Taylor Whitehead, and Colin Aiken!

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College Forward | 02.09.15

Meet Our CoFo Coaches of the Month!

Rachel Van Middlesworth
College Completion Coach – Austin
Hometown: Lakeland, FL

Fun Fact: Rachel is a certified archery instructor!

Rachel’s Impact: Rachel excels in building relationships with everyone around her, and her positive energy and spirited communication is contagious. Her passion for College Forward has allowed her to be hugely successful in spearheading new initiatives for her team and the program as a whole — including an office-wide Spanish conversation hour and an “open office” event for our students. Way to go, Rachel!

“I love getting to know my students and having the flexibility to pursue projects that coaches have dreamed up. I enjoy College Forward because I believe in its mission, and I believe that a fun work environment makes for a fun job!”


 

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Taylor Whitehead
College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: Rockwall, TX

Fun Fact: Taylor has a key to the city of Rockwall, Texas!

Taylor’s Impact: Even though she has the largest caseload of the CoFo junior coaches, Taylor’s incredible work ethic and time management have helped her guide her students to some pretty impressive CoFo milestones, including practice ACTs and tons of community service. Taylor is reliable and trustworthy, and a superb advocate for her students and school. Thanks, Taylor — if we had a key to College Forward, we’d give that to you too!

“I love that I get to chance to serve awesome students and see them grow as they get closer to their college goals. This program is dedicated to student success, and that becomes evident right from the start.”


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Colin Aiken
College Completion Coach – Houston

Colin’s Impact: Although Colin started a month later than his fellow coaches, he quickly jumped on board and reached out to his students. Colin has had over 406 successful contacts with his students since the end of September and has formed many close relationships with students. Colin has also been active in helping CoFo establish study groups on the Lone Star North Harris campus. He’s very adaptable and always willing to lend a helping hand when he can! Thanks, Colin!

College Forward Takes to the Texas Capitol

College Forward made a bold move at the opening of the 84th Texas legislative session, introducing policymakers to the people most affected by higher education legislation: Texas students. On Wednesday, January 28th, College Forward graduates descended on the Texas State Capitol to meet with representatives and share their stories of persevering through higher education. 

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College Forward | 01.30.15

College Forward Takes to the Texas Capitol

College Forward graduates get their game faces on at the Texas Capitol.

College Forward graduates get their game faces on at the Texas Capitol.

 

College Forward made a bold move at the opening of the 84th Texas legislative session, introducing policymakers to the people most affected by higher education legislation: Texas students.

College Forward students and graduates descended on the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, January 28th to meet with representatives from their home districts and share their stories of persevering through higher education. The event was part of CoFo’s “College Matters: Students Speak Up” campaign.

Education reform and higher education policy have been at the top of Texas’ legislative agenda for years. What discussions have too often lacked, however, are the voices of those whose lives are directly impacted by policy decisions. It’s time for a paradigm shift in the education debate. Policy must be informed by the voices and stories of those most knowledgeable about and most passionate about Texas higher education.

College Forward students and alumni have defied the odds. Only 8% of low-income students ever graduate from college in Texas. By contrast, College Forward students, who receive critical mentoring support, are five times more likely to earn a postsecondary credential. The benefits of higher education for low-income students and for the economic future of the state are indisputable. Mentoring makes the difference.

Stay tuned for College Forward updates as the Legislative Session continues!

For more information, contact Lindsey Wolf, CoFo Community Engagement Coordinator, at lwolf@collegeforward.org.

College Forward Celebrates MLK Day of Service

College Forward celebrates MLK Day by supporting local organizations throughout the long weekend. College Forward’s AmeriCorps members will lend support at organizations like Austin Parks Foundation, United Way, Boys and Girls and Club, Urban Roots, YMCA, and more!

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College Forward | 01.18.15

College Forward Celebrates MLK Day of Service

The upcoming commemoration of the MLK Day of Service on Monday, January 19 is an opportunity to remember that history and re-commit ourselves as citizens by volunteering in service to one another. It is also a time to consider how much work still remains to fulfill Dr. King’s dream. President Obama’s ‘United We Serve’ campaign commemorates MLK Day as a National Day of Service.

College Forward will celebrate MLK Day by supporting local organizations throughout the long weekend. College Forward’s AmeriCorps team members will lend support at local organizations like Austin Parks Foundation, United Way, Boys and Girls and Club, Urban Roots, YMCA, and more!

Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Against what seemed like impossible odds, Dr. King and scores of his fellow citizens of all races came together and, ultimately, helped bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.

This weekend, College Forward is proud to remember, celebrate, and serve. Service is a powerful tool for strengthening our communities, but it is only a start. As we work together, we will create economic opportunities by improving education, strengthening health care services, and improving financial literacy. These are central to making our economy work for every American.

Be sure to connect with College Forward on social media for photos and MLK service stories!

Meet Our Superstar Collegian Mentors!

College Forward is excited to announce our Collegian Mentors of the Month! These individuals have gone above and beyond when it comes to representing CoFo on their college campuses and promoting a “pay it forward” attitude with their fellow students.

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College Forward | 12.18.14

Meet Our Superstar Collegian Mentors!

College Forward is excited to announce a new feature, our Collegian Mentors of the Month! These individuals have gone above and beyond when it comes to representing CoFo on their college campuses and promoting a “pay it forward” attitude with their fellow students. Congratulations to all of our Collegian Mentors!

To find out more about our Collegian Mentor program, click here!

September: Alexzandra Goodwin

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Alexzandra has fostered community among her mentees at Tarleton State University, creating meaningful relationships with each one. At the beginning of the school year she arranged for all of her mentees to meet one another, and plans to provide them with resources for studying for finals and how to stay safe on campus. Alexzandra’s CoFo Completion Coach Michelle Wang says that Alexzandra is a “superstar.” We are extremely proud of Alexzandra for being a great role model and leader.

October: Juan Jaimes

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Juan has gone above and beyond to help his mentees at Texas State University — last month he created a Motivation Event that included a presentation and videos illustrating how college students can cultivate and use motivation in their daily lives. College Forward loves Juan’s creativity, and his desire to develop and share such amazing resources with his mentees. We’re proud of his hard work and commitment to being such an amazing mentor!

November: Sarafina Andrew

Nov - Sarafina Andrew

With a whopping seven mentees at TAMU Corpus Christi, Sarafina doesn’t let her larger caseload stop her from being an awesome mentor. In November Sarafina led an event to help her mentees select classes for the spring, a crucial step to student success. Thank you, Sarafina, for all of your hard work — your mentees and College Forward appreciate you!

CoFo Awarded $500,000 from Greater Texas Foundation

College Forward is thrilled to announce a $500,000 grant award from Greater Texas Foundation to build replicable models of our highly successful college access and college completion programs.

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College Forward | 12.15.14

CoFo Awarded $500,000 from Greater Texas Foundation

College Forward is thrilled to announce a $500,000 grant award from Greater Texas Foundation to build replicable models of their highly successful college access and college completion programs. Rural and underserved school districts, postsecondary institutions, and community based organizations across Texas will use these tools to motivate more of their students to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

Only 19% of Texas eighth graders go on to complete higher education, even after 150% of the standard length of time for a degree or credential. Drawing from College Forward’s deep expertise, these models will describe precisely how to motivate students through the critical challenges they face on the path to postsecondary preparation, acceptance, and success. Models will be supported and enhanced by a sophisticated technology platform that predictively alerts program administrators to students who are in danger of falling behind. This initiative will produce a measurable impact on statewide student outcomes as soon as 2017.

“College Forward is committed to ending inequality in higher education outcomes. This project will take a powerful step towards that goal by making our proven methodology available to every Texas student. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the partnership and guidance of Greater Texas Foundation,” says College Forward CEO Lisa Fielder.

For the past 12 years, College Forward has taken an experimental, student-focused approach to addressing persistent problems in student achievement, garnering national acclaim for program outcomes: College Forward students enter higher education at twice the statewide average and earn degrees at more than five-times the rate of their economically disadvantaged peers. This December, College Forward joined hundreds of college presidents and other education leaders from around the country to make collective commitments to solve our nation’s education shortfalls at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action.

Headquartered in Bryan, Texas, Greater Texas Foundation serves the citizens and educational institutions of Texas by supporting initiatives that increase rates of post-secondary enrollment and completion for all Texas students, with a particular focus on students who may encounter barriers to postsecondary success. In addition to grantmaking, Greater Texas Foundation provides strategic scholarships, promotes research, and convenes thought leaders to support efforts to ensure that all Texas students are prepared for, have access to, persist in, and complete postsecondary education.

College Forward’s Update from The White House

At the College Opportunity Day of Action, President Obama remarked that “we have to work together to make sure that everybody has a chance for success.” We at College Forward couldn’t agree more. Read more to find out what CoFo is committing to in 2015!

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College Forward | 12.08.14

College Forward’s Update from The White House

Let’s Move Forward

It was a privilege to represent College Forward at last week’s College Opportunity Day of Action at the White House. I joined President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and hundreds of college presidents and other education leaders from around the country to make collective commitments to solve our nation’s education shortfalls. College Forward has worked for the past twelve years to expand college opportunity. We are thrilled to have so many dedicated partners pledging their support.

President Obama remarked that “we have to work together to make sure that everybody has a chance for success.” We at College Forward couldn’t agree more. Today I am pleased to announce two commitments that embrace this great collaborative push to solve the challenges of college access and completion:

1. College Forward will share our successful program models with high schools, community colleges, baccalaureate-granting institutions, community-based organizations, and collective impact coalitions; and

2. College Forward will share CoPilot, our powerful technology tool, to amplify our partners’ ability to effectively promote student success.

By building and nurturing strong cross-sector partnerships, we will produce significant gains, reaching more than 20,000 students by 2018.

The President also announced a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. This is a key step toward the creation of a College Success Corps, a dedicated arm of AmeriCorps devoted to college success. A proud AmeriCorps program since 2006, College Forward enthusiastically supports this announcement.

Learn more about our visit to the White House.

Thank you for your continued support of College Forward and our efforts.

Sincerely,

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Lisa Fielder, CEO & Co-Founder

College Forward Goes to The White House!

Today, College Forward CEO Lisa Fielder joins President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. 

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College Forward | 12.04.14

College Forward Goes to The White House!

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Today, College Forward CEO Lisa Fielder joins President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

College Forward has committed to build and share innovative program models that deliver targeted support the critical challenges students face on the path to postsecondary preparation, acceptance, and completion. College Forward is a recognized leader for producing outstanding student outcomes, including a college acceptance rate twice that of similarly disadvantaged Texas students and a college completion rate six times the state average. The organization also has significant experience convening collective impact collaboratives and delivering highly­ popular student services at high schools and colleges.

“College Forward is thrilled to be a part of this important national conversation and to demonstrate our commitment at the White House. We’re excited to bring our considerable expertise in both college access and college completion to this summit,” says Mrs. Fielder.

Today’s participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K­16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The President will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-­income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-­income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

September Coaches of the Month

Check out our awesome coaches!

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College Forward | 10.17.14

September Coaches of the Month

Check out our awesome coaches!

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Matt Otero
College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: Albuquerque, NM

Fun Fact: Matt has lived in the 2nd, 5th, and 50th largest states in the U.S. (Texas, New Mexico, and Rhode lsland!)

Matt’s Impact: Matt is an excellent educator who values active engagement, holds his students to high standards, and always has a caring attitude. Beyond excelling with his students, he is also a leader in the College Forward office, taking on important projects including leading a workgroup on student scholarships and helping to create a new manual for junior year coaches. The Access program would be a much sadder place without Matt and his contributions!

“My favorite thing about my work with College Forward is the relationships I get to develop with my students and colleagues. I chose to return to CoFo for a second year because of these relationships.”


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Elizabeth Barnes
College Completion Coach – Austin
Hometown: Dallas, TX

Fun Fact: Elizabeth wrote both her best college application essay and her undergraduate thesis about Sherlock Holmes — Sherlock Holmes bookended her undergraduate literary career!

Elizabeth’s Impact: In addition to being dedicated to the students she supports, Elizabeth is also focused on improving the College Program as a whole. Her big-picture contributions include suggesting ways to improve tracking student success rates, offer ongoing training and support for student mental health issues, and provide opportunities for new coaches to connect with seasoned returner coaches.

“I love that I’m able to offer students support that they often can’t find anywhere else, and I love how considerate and appreciative my students can be! I’m also really happy to be a part of the undocumented students work group, which has been putting together excellent resources for CoFo coaches and the wider Austin community.”

 

Banking on a Brighter Future

  Higher education can make all the difference when it comes to being successful in an already competitive workforce. Our continuing partnership with Bank of America will help us provide our students with the education they need to secure and keep jobs for achieving long-term success. Thank you for your ongoing support, Bank of America!

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College Forward | 06.17.14

Banking on a Brighter Future

 

College Forward Photo

Higher education can make all the difference when it comes to being successful in an already competitive workforce. Our continuing partnership with Bank of America will help us provide our students with the education they need to secure and keep jobs for achieving long-term success. Thank you for your ongoing support, Bank of America!

May Coaches of the Month

Check out our May Coaches of the Month!  Aneasha Lawrence College Access Coach – Austin Hometown: Los Angeles, California Fun Fact: She placed third OVERALL in Baylor Bearathon Half Marathon.  “As a returner, the main reason I came back to serve for another year at College Forward was for my students. It has been an amazing experience…

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College Forward | 05.22.14

May Coaches of the Month

Check out our May Coaches of the Month! 

Aneasha L
Aneasha Lawrence
College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Fun Fact: She placed third OVERALL in Baylor Bearathon Half Marathon. 

“As a returner, the main reason I came back to serve for another year at College Forward was for my students. It has been an amazing experience walking along side them through the ups and downs as they transition from juniors to now graduating seniors. I am greatly going to miss all my Manor Mustangs but I look forward to hearing all about this next chapter in their lives.”

 

Tracy

Tracy Frohlich
College Access Coach – Houston 
Hometown: Greensboro, North Carolina 
Fun Fact: She’s the youngest of 3 girls, but 2 inches taller than her sisters. 

“A few of my favorite things about my time at CoFo are having had several opportunities to build my leadership skills and helping students reach their full potential, seeing my students get excited about the future and all its possibilities.”

 

April Coaches of the Month

Check out our April Coaches of the Month!  Elizabeth Petrie College Completion Coach – Austin  Hometown: St. Louis, MO  “I joined CoFo because I’ve always been very passionate about education and college access…My favorite thing about CoFo is the relationships I’m building with my students. Working with the University of Texas at Austin, and St….

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College Forward | 04.09.14

April Coaches of the Month

Check out our April Coaches of the Month! 

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Elizabeth Petrie

College Completion Coach – Austin 
Hometown: St. Louis, MO 
“I joined CoFo because I’ve always been very passionate about education and college access…My favorite thing about CoFo is the relationships I’m building with my students. Working with the University of Texas at Austin, and St. Edward’s University, I’m fortunate to be able to go on monthly campus visits. I love interacting with my students on these campus visits; I definitely think they’ve attributed to some of the close relationships I’ve built.”

Callie

Callie Thomas
College Access Coach – Houston 
Hometown: Versailles, KY
” I understand the importance and power of education, and I wanted to help students realize the positive impact that education can have on them… My favorite moments are when my students accomplish something that they were not expecting, such as an improved ACT score, a scholarship, or acceptance to a college.  It is great to see how these accomplishments illustrate their own abilities to them and motivate them to continue working hard toward their goals.”

College Forward Coaches Recognized on Mayor’s Day

College Forward coaches were among AmeriCorps members recognized by city leadership officials in Austin, Houston, Kyle and Baytown on April 2 as part of the Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service. Mayors Lee Leffingwell, Annise Parker, Lucy Johnson and Stephen DonCarlos issued proclamations recognizing the positive impact of national service, and honoring those who…

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College Forward | 04.03.14

College Forward Coaches Recognized on Mayor’s Day

College Forward coaches were among AmeriCorps members recognized by city leadership officials in Austin, Houston, Kyle and Baytown on April 2 as part of the Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service. Mayors Lee Leffingwell, Annise Parker, Lucy Johnson and Stephen DonCarlos issued proclamations recognizing the positive impact of national service, and honoring those who give back. College Access Coach and College Forward graduate Diana Gomez spoke about her experiences working with students during the Austin ceremony, and emphasized the “circle of service” she has experienced through College Forward.

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Del Valle Honors AmeriCorps Members

College Forward was proud to join with the leaders of Del Valle ISD to honor AmeriCorps members serving in the district. We look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our partners at AmeriCorps and the One Star Foundation as we approach Mayors Day of Service on April 11 and Americorps Week of Appreciation from April…

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College Forward | 03.25.14

Del Valle Honors AmeriCorps Members

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College Forward was proud to join with the leaders of Del Valle ISD to honor AmeriCorps members serving in the district. We look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our partners at AmeriCorps and the One Star Foundation as we approach Mayors Day of Service on April 11 and Americorps Week of Appreciation from April 27-May 3.

Recruitment Events!

Recruitment events are taking place at all partner high schools in the Austin/Houston/surrounding districts!

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College Forward | 09.24.13

Recruitment Events!

College Forward seniors started classes in early September and have been working hard on finalizing their college applications! College Forward students are aiming to submit all applications by November 30th, which will allow them time to then start applying for institutional and private scholarships! 

We have completed the junior recruitment process at all of our partner high schools and are now waiting in anticipation for the applications to roll in! We plan to start classes for our junior student cohort on October 8th.